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Hawai'i's $12M Fine for Monsanto

Monsanto is finally being brought to justice.

The pesticide company has agreed to plead guilty to 30 environmental crimes, including two felonies for having a banned chemical on Maui.

The plea agreement requires Monsanto to pay $12 million in fines.

“Monsanto is a serial violator of federal environmental laws,” U.S. Attorney Tracy Wilkison said in a statement. “The company repeatedly violated laws related to highly regulated chemicals, exposing people to pesticides that can cause serious health problems.”

"At the state capitol Monsanto kept saying they were following agricultural safety practices by the label, because the label is the law,” activist Klayton Kubo of Waimea Kaua’i told Organic Consumers Association. “Now we know that they were lying. What else is the agro chemical industry lying about?"

The federal criminal pleas are a turning point. Finally, the Department of Justice has stepped in to prosecute Monsanto’s crimes because the State of Hawaii has been so corrupt and failed at protecting the health of people living in communities surrounded by poisonous fields of GMOs. Now, Hawaii’s politicians and regulators can no longer lie, claiming that these chemicals are safe or that they did everything they could to protect the people. 

Ten years ago, the Organic Consumers Association donated to support the creation of a film about Hawaii being the world’s research lab for experimental GMO and pesticide testing. The film was the first to reveal that Kamehameha Schools was leasing land to Monsanto. 

Watch the free 43 minute film: Stop Monsanto From Poisoning Hawai'i: Genetic Engineering Chemical Warfare 

Kamehameha Schools is the trust established for Hawaiian children with the assets from the Royal Monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Today Kamehameha Schools owns 360,000 acres of land in Hawaii, plus over $10 billion in Wall Street investments. 

Why is Kamehameha Schools leasing 1,033 acres of land to Monsanto on the North shore of Oahu, above the most incredible surf breaks in the world?

As pro surfer Kelly Slater points out, “How toxic is that land going to be after it’s been sprayed with Roundup for 15 or 20 or 30 years? It’s almost going to be unusable for anything else.”

For ten years, Kamehameha Schools has never given legitimate answers to these questions.

The people of Hawaii want to know why Monsanto/Bayer is allowed to continue to test its Frankencrops on sacred indigenous land. 

It’s time for Kamehameha Schools to evict Monsanto’s poison agriculture operations and transition to leasing land to regenerative organic farmers on Kamehameha Schools’ 100,000 acres of active agriculture leases and grow healthy indigenous Native Hawaiian foods such as taro, ulu, coconut, turmeric, banana and kava. That’s the only way to reduce Hawai’i’s over-90-percent reliance on food imports. Kamehameha Schools has 100,000 acres of active agriculture leases. To this day, they have never disclosed the ratio of organic farmers to poisonous chemical operations. 

Kamehameha Schools, EVICT MONSANTO! How many crimes does Monsanto have to commit on your land before you take action?

While the fight is far from over, Monsanto/Bayer’s guilty pleas are a major victory for the community activists who have been battling the poison cartel.

The story of two of these community activists is told in the free 31 minute film Aloha Aina Warrior, about pro surfer and pro mixed martial arts fighter Dustin Barca and the man who inspired him, Klayton Kubo. 

Klayton Kubo lives downstream from a Dupont Pioneer research facility that has been poisoning the West side of Kauai for over 20 years. For a long time he was a one man army calling politicians, regulators and chemical corporation employees demanding accountability to stop the poison they were spraying. When Dustin Barca joined the fight, he helped drive global awareness to Monsanto and the chemical corporations’ crimes against humanity on Hawai’i. 

Another hero in the fight against Monsanto is Dr. Hector Valenzuela. Dr. Valenzuela is a Vegetable Crops Extension Specialist at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). He is one of the only independent scientists in the State of Hawai’i who has been monitoring what the chemical corporations have been spraying. 

For example, as Dr. Valenzuela told the Cascadia Times in 2015, chlorpyrifos was applied in Hawai’i at a rate that’s five times the national average, while atrazine was used 14 times as much. Both of these pesticides have since been banned in Hawai’i. 

The endocrine disrupter atrazine has been linked to birth defects and cancer in people. The pesticide’s largest manufacturer, Syngenta, agreed to atrazine being banned in Hawai’i after decades of community pressure led to a legal agreement.

The neurotoxin chlorpyrifos has been found to damage the brains of developing children. A Hawai’i law passed in 2018 will ban the use of pesticides containing chlorpyrifos starting in 2023.

Dr. Valenzuela's academic focus on organic agricultural practices has put him at odds with Monsanto and the other poison chemical businesses operating in Hawai’i. As the Hawai’i Independent reported:

“For years now, the college has been accepting money from agrochemical companies such as Monsanto while simultaneously advocating for a style of agriculture that is dependent on the products created by these companies, namely Genetically Modified Organisms that can withstand the use of the companies’ lucrative pesticides. Dr. Valenzuela’s field of expertise involves discovering ways in which crops can thrive in our climate without the use of the GMO-pesticide model of agriculture. The 20+ year CTAHR veteran spent six years in the early ‘90s developing the first long-term organic farming research project in Hawaii and the Pacific region. But around 1998, when Monsanto money began entering the equation, his research plot was shut down by the college. Over the next 15 years, Valenzuela tolerated what he calls a climate of ‘bigotry, retaliation and hostility’ in retaliation for his failure to tow the dominant CTAHR line (documented in Paul Koberstein’s article ‘The Silencing of Hector Valenzuela,’ published here).”

The Department of Justice’s criminal case against Monsanto is a model for action against the islands’ other polluters, from the jet fuel in tap water at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to the Thirty Meter Telescope blocked from the summit Mauna Kea. After decades of dangerous chemical pollution from the existing telescopes, the billionaire elite want to build a new 18 story telescope on top of the watershed of Hawaii island, that is also above the largest local food producing region in the State of Hawai’i. A new generation of activists, like Native Hawai'i-an Hawane Rios, are leading the resistance to the colonial water poisoners with their music, poetry and aloha.

Likewise, Monsanto/Bayer’s commitment of more than $10 billion to settle 120,000 lawsuits brought by Roundup-exposed cancer victims is an admission that the top-selling herbicide is a deadly, life-threatening poison that must be banned from Hawai’i just like atrazine and chlorpyrifos.